Barcelona have activated their plan B in the case Marco Verratti’s transfer does not go through. Their priority is the Italian but if that is not possible they have lined up two players - a creative central midfielder and a goalscoring winger. The names are chosen, both Premier League starts: Ander Herrera of Manchester United and Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who won the English top flight in 2016.
They are names that Barcelona have had in mind for a while. The priority is still Verratti, with the club willing to make a big effort for the Italian who could cost 80 million euros. Operation Verratti depends somewhat on what happens on July 4 in Paris, the day the Italian is supposed to return to training under Unai Emery. If he does not go, it’s a clear gesture from the player that he wants to leave and join Barcelona and the club can accelerate the operation.
If things are more complicated, Ernesto Valverde will turn to an old hand, Ander Herrera, whom he was in charge of at Athletic Bilbao. He played 50 games under Jose Mourinho last season and features under Lopetegui for Spain.
Valverde and Herrera worked together in the 2013-14 season, a particularly fruitful year in which Athletic came fourth. He would cost around 40 million euros.
Then Algerian winger Mahrez is the other part of the plan B. He has decided to leave Leicester but has an offer from Arsenal and wants to decide his future as soon as possible. He would cost around 35 million euros.